My Remake Experiences

A tale of 5 movie adaptatations and their application to my life...
June 04, 2010
Something I've found myself thinking about recently are the massive amounts of complaints vis a vis upcoming movie ideas. Remakes, TV shows turned into movies, films based on board games...If I were to count all the times I've seen complaints about this, I would be a very busy man. Hell, even I've said my share of things about it. The more I roll it around in my head, though, the more I realize that this is nothing new.

Herewith, I would like to share my thoughts on 5 different movies which, in their own ways, are adapted from previously made material.

I feel a good place to start off with would be "The Wizard Of Oz".

This classic movie was based on a series of books by L. Frank Baum, who actually had his own film company for a few years in the silent era making movies based on his tales.

A few years ago, I saw a few of these shorts on Turner Classic Movies. Only so much could be done in about 20 minutes or so, but these shorts were well-crafted. The costuming worked well upon the cast members, and there were enough thrills for one to see that something major could come from the material.

MGM took it upon themselves to do an adaptation of it in 1939, and what came of it has impacted generations of movie-goers. Between references and spoofs, every type of entertainment from Disney's animated output to movies from porn's silver age (My term for 80s adult movies) have taken elements, lines and scenes from this movies.

How it impacted me was interesting.

In my younger days, I thought the movie was rather boring, and I thought it seemed to go on forever. I wanted something more concrete and compact. Like many of my generation, I was drawn to things like the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" movies. Cracking bones and cracking jokes...That drew me in at the time.

As I grew older and my life grew rougher, I started to drift away from the Turtles and their ilk. I wanted to think more about things, and "The Wizard Of Oz" provided food for thought.

I've oftentimes written about my 12th grade music class, and how it was basically made up as it went along. At one point, we watched a video of students putting on a production of "The Wizard Of Oz". As I watched it, I found myself thinking of the song "Over The Rainbow".

"Someday I'll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far behind me...
Where troubles melt like lemon drops away above the chimney tops, that's where you'll find me".

I viewed the actual movie in full several years later, and I was astounded at what I missed all those years back. Escape can be a wonderful thing, but in the end, it's all on you to make your life what it is.

On the way towards that epiphany, I was helped out by another classic movie. The title was the one-and-only "Casablanca".

The movie was not written directly for the screen. It was actually adapted from a Broadway play entitled "Everybody Comes To Rick's". The play wasn't exactly successful, but when Warner Brothers got their hands on it, they turned into one of the wittiest, yet heart-rending dramas of the 40s.

My first experience with this title was through a viewing of the documentary "Here's Looking At You, Warner Brothers". The movie was discussed extensively, and at the end, the movie's theme "As Time Goes By" was used as backing for a montage of Warner Brothers titles from the silent era to the early 90s.

I kept on reading more about it in various movie guidebooks until I came to the year 1998. That was when I saw the movie for the first time. Viewing that movie made me see that adult content didn't always equal sex and violence.

I came of age with movies like the "Austin Powers" movies and "There's Something About Mary", and while they were very enjoyable, they were also rather blatant with their jokes. "Casablanca", on the other hand, was a movie with lines that were funny, but in a subtle way.

"I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here".

"Here are your winnings, sir".

"Oh, thank you!"

For me, that's rather funny, yet very subtle. In a way, maybe that's what led me to enjoy comedians like Steven Wright. They're funny, but in a quiet way.
We now move on to 1983, and one of my all-time favorites, which is a remake as well.

The movie is "Scarface".

"Scarface" is a movie that has had great resonance with me, as I've discussed the film in many of my articles.

I first saw this movie back in high school, and from the instant I did, I thought that Tony Montana (Al Pacino) was a person with a good attitude. Drug dealing is definitely not a good thing, but self-confidence is a wonderful thing.

Not all of us are in possession of positivity. I saw this movie during a period in my life when my world was starting to change. I was getting in trouble for writing about subjects that had Eminem winning critical acclaim and awards. My girlfriend had her eyes on my best friend. The teachers were disrespecting me as much as my fellow students.

When I saw Tony Montana's brand of swagger, I found something that I would try to utilize in my own life. One of the biggest lines from the movie is:

"All I have in this life is my balls and my word, and I don't break them for no one".

It's a statement of purpose that lets you know that Tony is who he is. It's a shame that the drug-dealing motif of the movie blocks messages like that. Once you remove the criminal activity, the movie is essentially about a man who stands firm and doesn't back down. That's something to be admired.

The 4th movie I'll talk about has a lot of relevance to today's cinematic landscape. There's talk of how games like "Battleship" and "Monopoly" are going to be turned into movies. For me, it all began with "Clue", based on the popular board game.

The movie impacted me in the way that it reminded me of how you never know how life will turn out. The DVD has 2 options. You can either watch it with a random ending, or with all the endings back-to-back.

I first saw this 1985 movie midway through the 00s, and with recent rebroadcasts of the movie, it's come to remind me of my life at the beginning of that decade. I had big plans for myself. I was looking to become one of the youngest screenwriters in history, and I was looking forward to college as the beginning of a new life. As it came to stand, I ended up writing ABOUT movies for several different websites, and I dropped out of college after a month-and-a-half due to many medical and psychological issues.

It was unexpected, but that's what it is to be random. You never know what's going to happen. Interpretation is the main key, I feel. I could look back on my life so far, and I could weep for my failures, or I could look ahead and keep on inventing endings each day, back-to-back. It's difficult to remain the same forever. Variety is the spice of life, though...Things get mixed up from day to day and from night to night. "Clue" may just seem like a board game, but for me, it's also a metaphor for how life can be. You don't know what lurks around the corner, and the surprise is in finding out.

I now end this article by talking about the movie "The Fugitive", which was based on the famed TV show of the same name.

This wasn't a movie with a major import on my personal life, but it did allow me to spend time with my Dad. He came of age with the original TV show, and I saw this movie with him one day. It was a day of bonding for us. We would often have these in the years before his death.

Out of all the movies I saw with him, this is the one that I still think about the most. My Dad was always an action-oriented fellow. He enjoyed watching John Wayne movies, and he often listened to music by artists like Eric Clapton, who himself contributed to the soundtracks of macho movies like the "Lethal Weapon" films.

I couldn't watch a lot of R-rated movies in my pre-teen years (although I had seen both "Caddyshack" and "The Blues Brothers" in my early middle school days). Movies like these were more the norm.

I find it difficult to recall much of it, but what it does remind me of is time spent with a man I loved and admired. If anything, I think that was the biggest impact a movie had on my life.

In summation, many remakes and adaptations are derided as cash-ins on past glories, but those past glories can form the victories of the present. It's all in the eye of the beholder, and I've beheld a lot. Give chances and take risks...Words not just for remakes, but for lives.

With that, the floor is open for discussions:

Do you feel that remakes and adaptations are just cash-ins? What are your favorite remakes?
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